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Panthers Use Three-Pointers To Down Flames In Big South Action
The Panthers proved why they are the Big South's leading three-point shooting team as Birmingham-Southern used eight three-pointers to key a 68-56 conference victory over Liberty, Wednesday evening, at Bill Battle Coliseum.
With the victory, Birmingham-Southern ups its conference record to 11-2 on the year (18-6 overall), pushing their home winning streak to 15-straight games, while the loss drops Liberty's league record to 2-10 on the season (6-19 overall).
The Flames jumped out to a quick lead early in the contest as Liberty scored four out of the first five points of the game, taking a 5-1 lead on a Evan Risher (So., G, Fort Worth, Texas) jumper at the 17:04 mark. But Birmingham-Southern quickly got back into the game as the Panthers started to find their range from behind the arc with back-to-back three pointers by James Collins with the second one coming at 15:05 to cut the Flames' lead to 8-7.
A pair of free throws by Bucky McMillan 50 seconds later gave the Panthers their first lead of the game, while another trey by Thomas Viglianco at the 12:19 mark pushed the home team's advantage to five points, 14-9. A fast-break dunk by Russell Monroe (So., C, Alma, Mich.) 50 seconds later pulled the Flames back within four points, 15-11, but that would be the third-to-last field goal that Liberty would hit over the last 12 minutes of the first half.
A lay-up by Viglianco at the 7:54 mark pushed the Panthers lead to nine points, 22-13, while Monroe pulled down an offensive rebound and got a stick-back lay-up on the following possession.
McMillian converted on one of two free throw attempts with 1:13 left to play to give the Panthers their largest lead of the opening period at 14 points, 34-20, before Larry Blair (Jr., G, Charlotte, N.C.) scored on a lay with one minute left in the half to trim the deficit back to 12 points, 34-22, at the break.
A lay-up by McMillian two minutes into the second half pushed the Panthers' lead to 16 points, 40-24, but the Flames didn't quit as Liberty slowly chipped away at the lead and cut Birmingham-Southern's advantage back to nine points, 46-37, on a Doug Stewart (So., F, Sanford, N.C.) trey with 12:32 left to play.
The Panthers responded by scoring 10 out the next 13 points to open up a 17-point lead, 56-39, on an old fashion three-point play by Sredrick Powe at the 6:13 mark. But the resilient Flames made one last push to get back into the contest with a 15-6 run, cutting the Panthers' lead back to eight points, 62-54, on a pair of free throws by Risher at the 1:48 mark.
But Ed Horton sank two free throws and converted on two lay-ups over the remainder of the contest to seal the victory for the homestanding Panthers.
James Collins paced the way for Birmingham-Southern as he came off the bench to score 20 points as he was 7-of-10 from the field, including 6-of-8 from three-point range, helping the Panthers shoot 44.4 percent from long range for the game (8-of-18).
Powe followed with a double-double as he scored 15 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds, while Horton added 11 points.
Blair led the Flames with 18 points as he was 7-of-19 from the field, while Anthony Smith (Fr., G, Plano, Texas) followed with 12 points and Risher added 10.
The Flames return to action on Saturday when they travel to Radford, Va. to face arch rival Radford in the Dedmon Center. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 2 p.m. and will be televised LIVE on the Big South Television Network.